No. 10 Iowa holds off Maryland 31-15 to stay unbeaten
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Unbeaten Iowa kicked off the supposedly soft part of its schedule with a win that wasn’t exactly pleasing to the eye.
Coach Kirk Ferentz couldn’t care less.
All he sees is that his Hawkeyes are 8-0.
Desmond King had an 88-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and 10th-ranked Iowa beat Maryland 31-15 Saturday.
Akrum Wadley, LeShun Daniels and Derrick Mitchell had touchdown runs for the Hawkeyes, who are 4-0 in the Big Ten.
They’ll enter November unbeaten for just the second time in 17 seasons under Ferentz despite gaining just 53 yards in the second half.
”I don’t know how good we are as a football team. But our guys are working hard and playing together,” Ferentz said. ”To move to 8-0, that’s a pretty significant accomplishment. Hasn’t been done a lot.”
Iowa used a touchdown late in the second quarter to lead 21-0 at halftime. The Hawkeyes defense took over from there, and King’s return put the Hawkeyes ahead 31-7 with 7:38 left.
Will Likely had a 100-yard kickoff return for the Terrapins (2-6, 0-4), and Maryland threw for just 74 yards.
Maryland got within 21-7 early in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard TD pass from Perry Hills to Taivon Jacobs, capping a drive highlighted by Iowa penalties.
Marshall Koehn’s 49-yard field goal pushed Iowa’s cushion back to 17 with 11 minutes left. The Terps quickly drove deep into Iowa territory, but King stepped in front of Hills’ pass for his second career touchdown.
Likely took the subsequent kickoff back for a score, and the Terps tacked on a two-point conversion. But Iowa was able to run out the clock in the first of five games against teams that, save for Minnesota, will struggle for bowl eligibility.
”I’m not worried about the playoffs. I mean, we’re still four games from the end of the Big Ten season,” Ferentz said. ”It just seems like if you win enough, good things will happen.”
Hills rushed for 104 yards and was 11-of-20 passing for Maryland.
Iowa had a bye last week, allowing some of its key players to heal from injuries and leaving the Hawkeyes rejuvenated – for a half, anyway.
Daniels had been hobbled since mid-September with a sprained ankle. He finished Iowa’s first scoring drive on a 1-yard TD run.
Wadley was buried on the bench because of fumbling issues and only got a chance because Daniels and Jordan Canzeri (sprained ankle) were injured against Northwestern two weeks ago. Wadley got the start in this one and made it 14-0 on an 11-yard TD run midway through the second quarter. He finished with 67 yards rushing.
Iowa’s final drive of the first half epitomized just how much things have changed for the better in 2015.
Iowa pinned Maryland deep in its own territory with less than 2 minutes left. Ferentz – who’s been criticized heavily for his clock management in the past – wisely used a pair of timeouts in hopes of getting the ball back. The Hawkeyes then partially blocked a punt to set up great field position, and Mitchell’s 2-yard run gave Iowa a 21-0 lead.
”It was a momentum swing,” interim Maryland coach Mike Locksley said of the block. ”We let them come inside and we should have got it off a little quicker.”
Maryland got within 14 as Iowa struggled to move the ball in the second half after adopting a more conservative approach.
But for the most part, the Terrapins reverted to the form that saw them score just six points over consecutive losses to West Virginia and Michigan.
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